16 grudnia 2002
On December 16th 2002, President of the Republic of Poland paid a "working visit" to the Republic of Lebanon. President of the Republic of Poland met with the President of the Republic of Lebanon, Emil Lahud, having first received the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri. The talks focused on bilateral co-operation and issues of the Middle East. Both presidents stressed substantial interest in invigorating the political dialogue and economic collaboration between the two countries, recently in evidence. President of the Republic of Poland pointed out that upon completion of its negotiations with the EU, Poland has become a particularly attractive partner for the states of the Mediterranean region associated with the EU. Polish businesses could actively engage in the ambitions programs of Lebanon`s reconstruction after the civil war and development of the country, while the experienced Polish military could take part in mine clearing operations in southern Lebanon. Also, the President mentioned interest of the Polish companies in the development projects of Lebanese government and particularly their investment potential in the power sector and infrastructure development. While discussing international issues, the parties opted for a political resolution of the Middle Eastern conflicts. President of the Republic of Poland expressed his concern on the fact that over the past two years the spiral of violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict had brought about not only substantial death toll and material losses, but also dramatic decline in the number of peace lovers on both sides. President Kwaśniewski expressed his hope that the actions and proposals brought to the table by the Quartet would bring the long-awaited peace and contribute to creation of the Palestinian state within the next few years. Aleksander Kwaśniewski considered bracing of international co-operation in the fight against terrorism to be an important task. President Lahoud emphasised efforts of his government and nation geared at reconstruction and development of Lebanon and the support of the comprehensive peace process in the Middle East, including Lebanon. The Lebanese President expressed his appreciation for active involvement and effectiveness of the Polish Military Contingent within UNIFIL. President Aleksander Kwaśniewski invited the President of Lebanon to Poland. The Polish President expressed his conviction that that visit would stimulate political contacts between Poland and Lebanon and cooperation between the two counties in other areas. In the afternoon, President of the Republic of Poland arrived at the base of the Polish Military Contingent (PKW) within UNIFIL in Naqoura. PKW is a part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) dispatched in 1978, with tasks including restoration of peace and security in the country and support for the government of Lebanon in taking control over the once occupied areas. After a subsequent Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the UN Security Council added another task to be delivered by UNIFIL, namely of providing humanitarian aid for victims of the war. UNIFIL is a 2 thousand strong military force, including the Polish logistics battalion, two infantry battalions from Ghana and India, the Ukrainian engineering battalion, the French security company and the Italian helicopter squadron. Major-General Lalit M. Tewari of India is the CO of the force. UNIFIL PKW includes 239 staff, including 175 professional soldiers, 57 conscripts and 7 civil personnel. The PKW sub-units include: one repairs company, one medical company and three platoons (command, security and transport). Lieutenant-Colonel Andrzej Kupis commands the PKW. The UNIFIL Headquarters are served by seven Polish officers, while four warrant officers are among personnel of the International Military Police Company. While in the UNIFIL PKW base, President Kwaśniewski met with representatives of the UNIFIL Headquarters and the Polish soldiers. In addressing the meeting, President of the Republic of Poland said, among other things: Firstly, let me tell you, that I am happy to be here in Lebanon along with my staff, the Minister of National Defence and the Polish delegation, in this nearly Polish spot. I am grateful for your service here, your service to uphold peace and to help maintain stability in this region, which has been through so many wars and conflicts, and which is still far from being secure. It is an even greater pleasure for me to be meeting you just before Christmas on which occasion I wish you and your loved ones all the best. We want that this Christmas be a peaceful time for you as well as for us and the entire world. We are looking forward to the coming year with the hope that it can be better than the one just coming to an end. We are confident that there can be less violence and terrorism in the world, and rather more dialogue, tolerance, understanding and co-operation in it. This will not be achieved without your service, without the things that you are doing here, in Lebanon and in so many other parts of the world. Since 1953, the Polish military has been active in many peacekeeping and mediation missions around the globe. Since that time, over 40 thousand Polish soldiers serving under the UN flag have participated in a variety of operations. You represent yet another change of guard. Countries with similar record are few. I had the opportunity of visiting Polish soldiers in Macedonia, yesterday in Syria and few weeks ago in Afghanistan. I saw just how large an effort this service is, so far from home, frequently in a territory planted with landmines, only recently seared by flames of war and still fearing that it may break out again. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and on behalf of the Defence Minister, Jerzy Szmajdziński and the Government of the Republic of Poland, I wish to thank you for your service, for what you are all doing. We believe, that your service will continue this way. We await you all back in Poland. We wish you a happy return home. Back in Poland, the hearts of your loved ones are throbbing for you, and your friends are with you in their thoughts daily. Here, in Lebanon you continue to be a part of Polish life. All the best to you all. At the end of his visit to the military base in Naqoura, the President of the Republic of Poland attended a special Christmas Eve concert prepared by Polish artists and the Polish Television Channel Two for the soldiers of the Polish contingents within UNDOF and UNIFIL.